Africa

Angola’s central bank has ordered lenders to give their clients the option of converting their foreign-currency mortgages into kwanzas, Bloomberg News reported. The move aims to reduce the risk of default amid a sharp depreciation of the local currency of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer. Only bank customers whose income is paid in kwanzas qualify, the central bank said in a statement published on its website Wednesday.

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Kenya should renegotiate the terms of a loan borrowed from China to build a modern railway line, parliament’s transport committee said in a report, one of many African countries grappling with a pandemic-induced downturn and heavy debt, Reuters reported. The East African nation raised its public debt ceiling last year. It took a loan from China to build the $3.2 billion standard gauge railway (SGR), which started operations in 2017.

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Zambia has asked investors in its US dollar bonds to accept delays in their interest payments into next year, in what would be the first African debt default on private creditors since the pandemic, the Financial Times reported. President Edgar Lungu’s government said on Tuesday that it was seeking “the suspension of debt service payments for a period of six months” from holders of its $3bn worth of international bonds, beginning in October.

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Chad has asked Glencore Plc to suspend payments on its oil-for-cash loan this year, a move that could prove a precedent for private creditors worried about being dragged into a global debt-relief push for poor countries, Bloomberg News reported. After securing a $61 million debt waiver in June, sponsored by the Group of 20, the central African nation sent a letter to the world’s biggest commodity trader and other private lenders, asking them to allow debt freezes, according to two people familiar with the matter.

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South Africa has pledged 10.5 billion rand ($650 million) to South African Airways (SAA), one of the administrators of the ailing state-owned airline said on Friday, Reuters reported. The administrators took control of SAA in December after almost a decade of financial losses and have been trying to keep it afloat as the coronavirus pandemic compounds its longstanding problems. Administrators published a restructuring plan in June, but the more than 10 billion rand required for it to work has not materialised since the airline’s creditors approved it in July.

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Kenya Airways Plc needs at least $500 million to ride out the coronavirus crisis after first-half revenue plunged almost 50%, Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said in an interview, Bloomberg News reported. The carrier, which is 49% state owned, must also be fully nationalized alongside Kenya Airports Authority, which runs the Nairobi hub, under a holding structure similar to that of regional leader Ethiopian Airlines Group, he said. “If we don’t restructure the airline, and take the airline as is into this organization, then we are doing a disservice to the taxpayer,” Kilavuka said.

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South African Rugby (SA Rugby) has placed the Southern Kings into voluntary liquidation because of debts of R55 million ($3.37 million) and no chance of generating any income this year, Reuters reported. The Kings, based in Port Elizabeth, were last month withdrawn from all competition due to their financial position following a failed takeover bid that forced SA Rugby and the Eastern Province Rugby Union to take control.

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Woolworths Holdings is reviewing its South African clothing business and the food division of Australian unit David Jones to respond to fashion trends and stem losses amid a slump in earnings, its chief executive said on Thursday, Reuters reported. Roy Bagattini, who took over as CEO of the fashion and food retailer in February, is on a mission to improve the performance of the David Jones department store chain. His predecessor Ian Moir paid a premium to bulk up in Australia and turn the company into a leading southern hemisphere retailer.

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South African banks have made their rainy-day provisions. Now, they must wait and see whether the funds set aside will be enough to manage a potential torrent of bad debt and ease pressure on their earnings in coming months, Bloomberg News reported. The country’s so-called “Big Four” experienced a profit slump deeper than that seen during the global financial crisis in the six months ended June after a spike in credit impairment charges as they grappled with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide lockdown.

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Administrators at struggling South African Airways (SAA) have called creditors to a meeting on Friday after the government missed a deadline to make funding available for a restructuring plan, Reuters reported. The administrators took control of state-owned SAA in December after almost a decade of financial losses and published a rescue plan in June following repeated delays and wrangling over its future.

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